Episode one review inside
The North Remembers
Well, season two starts off with a bang as Tyrion, played by the always cool Peter Dinklage, comes in to lay the smack down on Cersei(Lena Headey) and her prick son, the unfortunate for Westeros, new King Joffrey (Jack Gleeson). Courtesy of Lord Tywin Lannister, the big bad daddy of all the Lannisters of Casterly Rock, Tyrion now has a new leash to reign in the boy King Joffrey. The incursion of Tyrion as the new Hand of the King into Cersei’s nice little familial unit will have ill effect on her sanity and will provide some much needed rain for her parade. So we can look forward to all new forms of batshit craziness coming from the goldy-locked queen regent.
We finally get to see Bran’s visions realized to an extent, which I think the show handles quite nicely. I was curious to see how they would portray the out of body “green dreams” described in the book. The forest-level wanderings through a wolf’s point of view will probably get a little more grizzly as the season progresses. I can only imagine the hijinx that little lord Bran Stark’s dire wolf will get up to. The huge wolves seem to have a penchant for throat ripping that we got to see a little bit in the first season and only hear about in regards to Robb Stark’s wolf. Rumors claim the wolf killed a dozen men in battle… not too shabby for a wolf the size of a pony.
Rumors will continue to abound and we will only hear about a lot of things this season. Like hearing about already fought battles, or hearing about amassing armies off in the distance like King Renly or Mance Rayder, The King Beyond the Wall. True to the book, the show wants to give you the information that you need to know. So maybe they won’t drag us along Khaleesi’s roaming through the desert like an attractive, beardless Moses, or show us all of the battles between the North and South. But, that proclivity for restraint will prove to be a good thing. We don’t need to see everything play out, we really just need the vitals. The show might go on forever if we got it all and we only need to see how all the parts start to make sense within the whole. And I don’t know about you, but I don’t really need to see the rag-tag Khalasar wander through the desert, so we’ve been done a huge favor by the show keeping those scenes very, very brief.
Also we’re introduced in this episode to the delight and charm of the incestuous Craster living with his daughter-wives on the other side of the Wall. Yes, daughter-wives! This creepy old fart marries his daughters and gets to know them in the biblical sense. We get some news about Benjen Stark, but still no recent word of his whereabouts, so the Crows continue aimlessly North of the Wall.
And what would the season-opener be without a good old fashioned cross burning. Well sort of a cross burning, more of a statue of your gods burning, but the same idea right? Enter Melisandre, the Red Witch, who at the very least, besides the powers of persuasion, has the power to withstand poison that would otherwise make your brain pop and turn into mush. Yeah she can drink poison with the best of them and it’s all good, unfortunately for Stannis’ Maester who doesn’t seem to be able to hold his poison. Most notable about this segment are the casting choices they’ve made for this season. Frankly I’m pretty excited about all the new cast members, I think they’ve really nailed it with Davos(Liam Cunningham), Melisandre(Carice van Houten), and Stannis(Stephen Dillane). With Dillane you really get the idea of how unlikable Stannis is.
Oh and holy crap, it’s a really big wolf. The dire wolves turned out really well, not perfect, but damn good. I was curious to see how they would approach the subject of portraying giant wolves. I was worried they would play them off screen like they tend to do with other things, i.e. huge and epic battles. I’m glad to see they had the budget to get it done.
Robb Stark sends his mother out to Renly Baratheon as his liasion. I can only see this adding another storyline to the mix. Opening up another story arc following Catelyn Stark keeps the format true to Martin’s original style by having such an immersive tapestry woven on screen.
Which is something else I had noticed in this episode that was a welcome addition. There was the slipping in of a little exchange between Cersei and Littlefinger. Now this conversation didn’t take place in the book where Cersei demonstrated her brand of power, but I thought the scene leant weight to the ideas of letting the viewers see how the power players think in the show. Or more importantly, who in the show sees themself as a power player. I think this dynamic will be flipped on its side time and again throughout the show as we see the balances of power shifting constantly throughout Martin’s world.
We continue to see the reading between the lines in the opener as Janos Slynt goes on a baby killing rampage through King’s Landing. Not cool Janos, not cool. While Martin was never so obvious about this specific purging in the book, you can be pretty sure that a little baby-killing wasn’t beneath the prick King Joffrey.
I think it’s going to be moments like this that offer a little more insight into the author’s mind and what he wants to do with his story. These little touches they put in the show will be something to look forward to throughout the remainder of this season.
Overall I’m going to declare Tyrion as the victor of this episode for as always stealing the show.